Aside from the big name web hosting providers, there are many smaller, niche-oriented web hosting companies. Could these be a better deal, or provide better service for your highly targeted site than a general web host? First it’s important to understand what a niche web host is.
Definition of a Niche Web Host
A niche web hosting service is targeted to a very small and distinct group of customers (called a niche). Services are modeled around the basic needs of members of that target customer group, and niche web hosts can range from offering hosting services only for certain types of web hosting, or for a certain type of site.
Types of Web Hosting
• Email Hosting – These are targeting businesses who want their email saved to a different server than their web site, so if the site goes down, they can still access email.
• Image Hosting – Image hosting has become more popular over the last few years. It is targeted towards individuals who simply want space to host and display image files without the need for a full web site, or as a supplement for a full web site.
• Reseller Hosting – Only reseller accounts are sold. You can’t buy web hosting from them for your own personal use.
• Audio / Podcast hosting – Audio hosting sites are nothing new, but they’ve usually been targeted towards musicians, allowing them to display their work, and oftentimes giving them a one- or even multi-page site to include images and information about themselves as well. Now, with podcasting becoming more popular, some sites allow you to upload your podcasts and make them available for public download.
• Genre Sites – These are hosting companies that target their services to certain types of web site owners, such as musicians, artists, photographers, web designers, authors, etc. They provide tools, and sometimes web site templates, that are specifically designed to be of use to their target market.
The Cost of Niche Web Hosting
While you may think many niche web hosts would provide their services at discounted rates, since they’re often offering fewer services (such as just image or email hosting), that’s not necessarily the case. While you may only pay $2 – 3 for email or image hosting monthly, you can now find some of the larger, full-service, web hosting companies offering their services for those rates.
Due to the fact that niche web hosts are targeting smaller customer groups, they actually tend to charge more than their general web host competitors. This is because they don’t have the luxury of selling space in bulk to huge groups of general customers. They also sometimes charge increased fees, because they provide specialty tools or templates for their target customers that the general hosts to not.
Is it for You?
While a general web host can provide most, if not all, of the services you need, it’s more a matter of preference than anything else. The exception would be if you find a niche web host that is providing specialty tools that you’d like to use in your site or other hosted services. Niche hosting for limited services, such as email or images, can be a good value. That’s especially true if your current general web host limits the number of email accounts you can set up or the space available for images. Consider the benefits a niche host will provide in relation to the cost that you would be charged. If they offer something special that you consider worth the price, then niche hosting might just be for you.
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